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Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

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Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  brainchasm on 6/16/2013, 12:18 am

So, I'm out by the garden in the dark, for no particular reason other than I do that sometimes.

As I'm standing there, I see the shape of something come silently fluttering into Plot A...

I go get my flashlight...

AND CATCH HER IN THE ACT!

Hummingbird hawk moth, depositing eggs on my tomato plants!

I almost beaned her with the flashlight, but I just kept following her, and she didn't much like the light at that moment, so she fluttered away.

And of course, this prompted a deep flashlight inspection of my plants.  I only found half a dozen eggs scattered among my five plants, but I know I didn't find them all...

So it begins...the hornworm cometh, and I am prepared.

HAVE AT THEE, FOUL KNAVE!


Last edited by camprn on 6/16/2013, 7:15 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : expanded title)

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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  brainchasm on 6/16/2013, 3:09 am


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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  camprn on 6/16/2013, 7:03 am

OH! How wonderful! Wasn't she one of the most magnificent creatures you have ever seen (despite the fact she was laying eggs in your tomato plants)? They really are quite something. Glad you found the eggs and put an end to them, for your garden's sake. Happy hunting and good luck!

When I find the worms, and if it is are parasitized in particular, I pick the worm off and take it away from the garden, but I don't kill it. I want the braconid wasp eggs to hatch so the next generation of the wasps can do their thing on the next generation of hornworms in the garden.

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05517.html






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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  brainchasm on 6/18/2013, 12:49 am

So, since that night, I've found probably 10 more eggs, and about as many caterpillars.

Luckily, I'm catching them all in the first instar (hatchlings)...in fact, most have still been on the same leaf as their eggshell.

It really is all about find the damage, find the worm. It works so consistently!

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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  Dirt Girl on 6/18/2013, 1:36 am

How do you know if they've been parasitized, camprn? Is that the pic with eggs on it's back?

I had fruit worms last summer and they make me so FURIOUS!! How DARE you eat my food before it has a chance to ripen?! Grrrrr!! I sprayed weekly with a camphor insecticide but I'd just had a baby and couldn't stay on top of it. My tomato harvest was despicable - less than 5! I'd squish the little buggers whenever I found one. They have the most amazing green guts... from eating MY PLANTS!
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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  sanderson on 6/18/2013, 3:33 am

What do the eggs look like?  I have looked at my tomatoes plants at least 4 times a day looking for the tomato worm.  Last night I found holes in 2 Romas.  Is this what the damage to the tomatoes look like.  I have only seen the horn worm on leaves and stalks, never on the tomatoes.  And that was years ago.  Comments appreciated.

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Green Hornworms

Post  will on 6/18/2013, 11:52 am

I'm only in my second year of SFG and I just had my first run in with green hornworms. They have almost destroyed four of my tomato plants in less then a week. I have pulled about 25 of them off in the last couple of days. I need some advice, please
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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  Triciasgarden on 6/18/2013, 12:07 pm

Brainchasm good thing you saw that moth so you know to look for the eggs!

Camprn that is a good suggestion about keeping the parasites alive!
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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  Turan on 6/18/2013, 12:16 pm

Sanderson that looks a lot like slug damage to me.

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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  sanderson on 6/18/2013, 2:27 pm

Turan, I ruled out slugs/snails. But thank you for replying.
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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  Pollinator on 6/18/2013, 2:30 pm

Paper wasps - the gentle ones that make little umbrella-shaped nests - are wonderful hornworm snatchers. I have them patrolling among my tomatoes all the time. Once in a while I see a young hornworm, but it's always gone within a few hours.

Some folks kill their paper wasps, out of misguided fear of them, and then wonder why the worms take over their garden. A very good sign of the health of a garden is the presence of these wasps flitting though the plants.
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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  brainchasm on 6/18/2013, 2:35 pm

@Pollinator wrote:Paper wasps - the gentle ones that make little umbrella-shaped nests - are wonderful hornworm snatchers. I have them patrolling among my tomatoes all the time. Once in a while I see a young hornworm, but it's always gone within a few hours.

Some folks kill their paper wasps, out of misguided fear of them, and then wonder why the worms take over their garden. A very good sign of the health of a garden is the presence of these wasps flitting though the plants.
I kill the ones trying to make nests on my house, unfortunately, but I don't kill the ones that visit to drink from my pool.

Never knew paper wasps were worm-hunters! They're doing a piss-poor job though.

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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  quiltbea on 6/18/2013, 2:53 pm

Hornworms usually just destroy the outer surface of tomatoes.  Its the leaves and stems that they devour and devastate.

Above: I removed a hornworm from one of these fruits seconds before taking this photo.
I found an easy way to destroy them.  Bring along a scissors with you and cut them in half.  You won't have to get that horrid green goo on you as can happen when squishing them.
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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  sanderson on 6/18/2013, 3:07 pm

Quiltbea,  Your photo shows what I thought horn worm destruction looks like.

So still don't know what caused the holes and gooey mess inside.
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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  brainchasm on 6/22/2013, 1:05 am

Grr, found more eggs tonight, and one hornworm that looks like I've been missing him for a while - has his stripes, so I'm thinking second instar.

I got a bunch of pruning to do tonight anyway, so it'll be Armageddon for the hornworms in MY garden!

(I'll take a pic of "Big Boy" after pruning; he's chilling in my laughable compost pile)

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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  sanderson on 6/22/2013, 1:07 am

What do the eggs look like? Haven't seen a pic of them.
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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  brainchasm on 6/22/2013, 3:17 am

@sanderson wrote:What do the eggs look like?  Haven't seen a pic of them.
Oh sorry! All the eggs I see, I just chuck them in the rocks!

Here is a picture of the recent hornworm I found. Currently, he's cruising around on the leaf I found him on, on my counter. And yes, those pics are his "frass" (turds).

I saw him drop one of them...they pick up their back feet to poop, lol!


Be aware - the "Enlarge this picture" versions are enormous.




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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  gregrenee88 on 6/22/2013, 8:51 pm

I pulled a baby hornworm off my tomato plant the other day. My daughter took and placed him in her bug catcher. We got rid of him today. Very Happy
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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  brainchasm on 6/23/2013, 1:40 am

sanderson, here's your picture of eggs.  Tonight's haul was 10 eggs (5 green, 5...other).



Dime for scale.

Also, found this little guy.  Find The Damage, Find The Worm!

"Aerial/wasp" view:



And yes, that's frass (caterpillar poop) by his rear end/horn.  That bit of shine on the left edge, bottom half of the pic is his eggshell.  Thus, my guess is, from size, vicinity to shell, and general horn-to-body ratio, that he is a first instar (hatchling, but obviously been eating).

Here's the pose-pretty-for-me angle:


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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  sanderson on 6/23/2013, 1:57 am

BC,  Shocked
I'm suppose to actually see the eggs????  Forget the magnifying glass, I'm going to need a jeweler's loop!!  Shocked

PS Aerial/wasp view - you have humor!
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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  TexasTracy on 6/23/2013, 2:11 am

It's amazing how much damage they can do! I found one on a tomato plant I've been nurturing (I transplanted it from my overly crowded box to a bucket) yesterday. Looked all over, didn't find anymore but this morning I found another one! The amount of frass on my patio around the bucket was just gross! It also blows my mind how they can eat that much so quickly!
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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  brainchasm on 6/23/2013, 2:50 am

Hey, I can see them, and I wear glasses!

To be fair, I am pretty used to doing very small detail work (microsoldering).

I've found going out at night with a bright flashlight (think maglite, even a small one) helps.  Your eyes focus on where you're putting the light, etc.

If you don't want to hunt eggs, and I don't blame you, then just remember - Find The Damage, Find The Worm!

Usually.


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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  sanderson on 6/23/2013, 1:09 pm

BC, Love the photo. I use a maglight at night because I see different things at night with it compared to what I see in the daylight. Example, green cabbage worm. I can't focus on small things like I used to. I think it's called "old eyes." I have even thought about buying the magnifying loop glasses used by dentists. I will start using my magnifying glass more! No frass so far.
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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  brainchasm on 6/27/2013, 3:25 pm

Meet Harry the Hornworm!

Instead of killing this one, I pruned a tomato and brought him inside and he's been eating, pooping, and last night he molted! I think that puts him at second instar.

Biggest caterpillar so far (now, since I've been feeding him).


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Re: Don your armor...the hornworm battle begins!

Post  sanderson on 6/27/2013, 3:43 pm

BC, I think it's kind of neat. Another experiment! Is he inside or outdoors? What will you do once he pupates? I mean, you've already named him!! Smile

Off thread:

I once picked up an American cockroach egg capsule at a bakery when I worked as a health inspector. I put it in my shirt pocket intending to add it to the office specimen collection. I forgot about it and that Friday evening, I found in and put it on my dresser. Sunday evening it dawned on me that I didn't know when the babies inside would hatch, so I put it in a jar. That night, they hatched! Thank goodness I had finally put the capsule in a jar!
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